Former Attorney Wanted For Theft Stopped by Police

, New York Law Journal

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A disbarred Brooklyn lawyer faces larceny charges for the theft of nearly $1.5 million from two clients following his arrest this week in upstate Dutchess County.

Robert Fontanelli, 48, was "nervous and impatient" when stopped by troopers on the Taconic State Parkway Tuesday for having an expired inspection sticker on his vehicle and suddenly tried to flee, according to state police. He was run down by troopers a short distance away and charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.

Troopers said they learned shortly after taking Fontanelli into custody that he was wanted in a warrant by the New York Police Department for first-degree grand larceny and second-degree grand larceny, both stemming from his alleged failure to remit a total of $1.495 million to two clients from the 2012 sales of properties in Crown Heights and Marine Park in Brooklyn.

Fontanelli, who listed Clinton Corners in Dutchess County as his residence, was turned over to New York City police on Wednesday and was in custody Thursday in Brooklyn.

The Oct. 18, 2013, ruling by the Appellate Division, Second Department, in which Fontanelli was disbarred traced how he received the proceeds of the sales in 2012 but escrow checks Fontanelli wrote to his clients bounced.

The court did not document in Matter of Fontanelli, 2013-07395, where the money from the real estate transactions went. The judges noted that Fontanelli failed to provide the Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh and Thirteenth Judicial Districts with documentation showing that he did not convert the $1.495 million for his own use and, except for one instance in April 2013, volunteer any responses to the committee's requests for information and explanations.

Fontanelli had been admitted to practice in the Second Department in January 1999.

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